Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 613 May 5, 1941

Ethiopia, East Africa. At 4.15 AM, 3/2nd Punjab battalion advances across the ridge from Elephant to Middle Hill (towards Italian stronghold at Amba Alagi). As dawn breaks, they get held up in barbed wire and are pinned down by 12 Italian machineguns only 500 yards ahead (8 killed, 28 wounded). They wait all day under fire to retreat back to Elephant after dark.

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie triumphantly returns to his capital Addis Ababa, 5 years to the day since fleeing the Second Italo-Abyssinian War on May 5 1936.

The besieged Allied garrison at Tobruk is resupplied by Navy warships for the first time. Australian destroyers HMAS Voyager & HMAS Waterhen complete the round trip from Alexandria to Tobruk overnight.

At 11.17 AM, U-38 sinks British MV Queen Maud (1 killed, 43 survivors) 200 miles off Sierra Leone.

Luftwaffe bombing of Navy yard at Belfast, Northern Ireland, does minor damage to British aircraft carrier HMS Furious, seaplane tender HMS Pegasus, destroyer HMS Volunteer, corvettes HMS Bryony, Buttercup & La Malouine (seized from the French at Portsmouth on June 22 1940). HMS Furious departs next day for Liverpool. Bombing of shipyards on the Clyde Estuary, Scotland, does more serious damage to destroyer HMS Marksman and submarines HMS Traveller & Trooper, which are under construction.

Operation Tiger. Overnight, British freighters (carrying 295 tanks to General Wavell in Egypt) pass through the Strait of Gibraltar with a large escort of warships from Force H.

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